For many a mention of the Alps evokes visions of snow-capped ridges, freshly groomed pistes or the satisfaction of a vin chaud after a long day on the hill. But for many who (after countless winter seasons) now consider the Alps their home, this mountainous landscape means so much more. And it just may have something to do with the magic of a summer in the Alps.
When I first started doing seasons it was all about the winter. The skiing, the après and the parties.
After many years in Courchevel as a so-called seasonnaire I finally took the plunge and decided to dive in head first by staying a full summer in the Alps. And I have to say, despite much trepidation and worry about deserted streets and long lonesome days it’s been immense. After all, how many people get to wake up surrounded by alpine meadows and high mountain peaks? And for those who love the great outdoors, it really is an adventure playground. From biking and climbing to food festivals and wine tasting expos, you’re never stuck for something to do.
Summer In The Alps: Why We Love It
It’s not just Courchevel that rocks in the summer…
Head over to Tignes, where it’s all about the lake
Unlike some mountain resorts, Tignes is one of those resorts that keeps popping all year round.
And if you can survive the steep and mildly dangerous water slide, you can move on to the loads of free activities the SportTignes cards offers in the summer. Freebies include:
- Use of the lifts for hiking or mountain biking
- Paddle boarding
- Canoeing & kayaking
- Swimming pool access
- Mini Golf
- The Crazy Airbag
And if you need a skiing fix there is the Tignes glacier that opens from late June to early August. Or for a bit more of a relaxed vibe hit up the Tignes wine festival to sample some local vin.
Go Mountain biking in Méribel
With the Mountain Bike World Cup coming to Méribel this summer the resort has got a clear focus to become a mountain biking mecca. Apparently, the Mairie has employed the services of the man who catapulted Morzine into a summer resort to transform the biking trails and attract bikers from across the globe.
Méribel offers a variety of trails for different levels of mountain bikers. From gentle green and blue downhill sections to much more extreme black itineraries for the most experienced riders. They also have several bike cleaning spots as well as a patroller on the trails ensuring the upkeep and assisting riders.
Party with the locals
No visit to the Alps in the summer would be complete without an afternoon of merriment with the locals at one of the frequent village fêtes. Every village will host its own fête at some point during the summer so enquire at tourist information on arrival to find out what’s going on during your stay. What better way to immerse yourself in French culture and meet the locals than joining them for a glass of wine and a sumptuous feast. Think old English street party with gourmet feasts, platters of cheese and a gallon of local wine. Just don’t plan on driving home afterward and be sure to arrive with an appetite. The spread put on is usually something else! Follow the link to find out more about what to expect at a local French village fête.
There are local markets to scour for fresh vegetables, local cheeses and artisan produce. There are rivers to raft down at full flow for the ultimate adrenalin rush. And there are golf courses aplenty with beautiful lush alpine surroundings. Plus the mountain restaurants provide the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon in the sunshine with a good book and the plat du jours are pretty awesome too.
I have to admit that being one of the lucky few at New Gen who works part-time and with flexi-hours I’ve got it pretty darn good. With the luxury of being able to choose my hours to some extent, I can really make the most of the summer. If the sun is shining and the sky is blue I might start the day with a bracing swim at the outdoor pool down at Courchevel Village or free yoga down by the lake in Le Praz. Then after a few hours work, I’ll head back out on my mountain bike before the lifts close to hit up a few trails. And there’s always the lure of a long lazy alfresco lunch at the Bouc Blanc, above La Tania, when I’ve accrued enough hours for the week.
It can be tricky in the winter finding a night when all your friends are free with most working to different schedules. But the other beauty of the summers here is that we all have the luxury of the 9-5 life (or less). Which means action-packed weekends to wile away en mass. With a summer fete going on in one village or another most weekends there’s plenty to keep even the most inactive entertained. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a glass of wine, as the sun goes down amid a mass bingo game or bucking bronco contest?!
So yes, summers in the Alps are much less frenetic than winters tend to be. But after a manic ski season filled with new faces and new friends, it’s actually quite nice to sit back, breathe and enjoy the downtime. And on that note, the pool calls. Got to keep fit after all!